That seems to be the prevailing thought, now that we know that 2006 was one of only four years in the past seven decades or so that Americans spent more than they earned. In fact, 2006's -1% rate was second only to the -1.5% rate back in the Great Depression.

Of course, there are all sorts of explanations why this is nothing to worry about, from the methodology of the data (it doesn't include investment gains -- a fair-ish point) to rationalizations about how big gains in housing equity make everyone richer than they really look on paper.

Uh-huh. Sticklers for reality might point out that feeling rich isn't the same as being rich. (Try telling that to an American public that's so obsessed with fame and fortune that it's willing to do stuff like this.)

So while folks out there are happily swapping equity withdrawals for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPods -- and maybe, just maybe, counting on Apple stock to keep their finances above breakeven -- I don't buy the Goldilocks story that everything is just fine.

What good is a growing economy if earned disposable income isn't keeping up with splurging? After all, bubbles pop, even if they're not all that bubbly. Those shares of Coach (NYSE:COH), Under Armour (NYSE:UA), Crocs (NASDAQ:CROX), and Bare Escentuals (NASDAQ:BARE) may not make you feel so rich once your neighbors stop blowing all their dough, plus whatever they can get out of the bank.

Comments? Bring them here.

At the time of publication, Seth Jayson had no positions in any company mentioned here. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Under Armour is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Fool rules are here.